17th January 2024

Touchstone Awards set the gold standard

The winners of the 2023 Touchstone Award showed dedication to hallmarking enforcement and high standards of consumer protection.


By Ken Daly
British Hallmarking Council
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The British Hallmarking Council relies on local authority-based Trading Standards teams across the UK to protect consumers and businesses

In June 2023 the British Hallmarking Council (BHC) Touchstone Award was presented at CTSI Conference in Birmingham, when the National Association of Jewellers Chair Heather Callaway, along with BHC Chair Noel Hunter OBE, congratulated the outstanding East Riding of Yorkshire Trading Standards team on their well-deserved win.

After a couple of years in which local authority services had been recovering from the resource pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was good to see a winning enforcement project which included a comprehensive range of advice and enforcement activities within its local area.

The overriding objective of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Trading Standards project was to determine the levels of compliance with hallmarking legislation and to support honest, compliant traders and remove persistent non-compliant traders from the local marketplace.

Some of the work undertaken included:

  • 42 trader inspections carried out at a range of physical premises (details in chart below)
  • Internet searches carried out at 17 online trader websites or online platforms resulting in samples being tested and further action being taken for non-delivery
  • 16 jewellery samples purchased or seized and tested with the support of Sheffield Asay Office
  • Four joint visits with officers from Sheffield Assay Office
  • General advice given to all traders where appropriate
  • Input of intelligence on hallmarking issues onto the national TS IDB system
  • Significant levels of positive publicity and media attention around hallmarking issues

An important part of the application for the Touchstone Award is to show successful outcomes following any enforcement work, and this submission did that admirably with:

  • One formal product safety recall initiated – due to excess nickel in bangles
  • Three voluntary recalls – two for bracelet and earring sets which didn’t meet precious metal fineness, and one which was not hallmarked despite bearing a ‘silver’ description
  • One un-hallmarked gold chain
  • Two items bought online that were subsequently undelivered
  • 14 premises or websites not displaying the HMA section 11 hallmarking notice
  • Two weighing instruments which were incorrect or unsuitable for use for trade

All these non-compliances were followed up diligently and outcomes recorded as necessary on the relevant national databases.

The judges were impressed by the comprehensive nature of the project and also the close collaboration with Sheffield Assay Office, not only in testing products but in assisting with training of Trading Standards Officers.

Presentation in the East Riding of Yorkshire
As part of the Touchstone Award process each year, the BHC endeavours to visit the winning local authority and congratulate the Trading Standards Service at the highest level within the authority, in order to note the thanks of the BHC and to raise the profile of the Trading Standards function within the authority.

Left to right: John Whittle, Elizabeth Pandey and Noel Hunter OBE

With this in mind the BHC Chair, Noel Hunter OBE, visited Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire on 1 November 2023, where he spoke about the great work that had been done by the team, and presented the Touchstone silver platter to the Chair of the Council, John Whittle, and Elizabeth Pandey from the East Riding of Yorkshire Trading Standards team.

Goldsmiths’ Hall
Part of the prize for the winning team is a training and information day at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, the base of the Goldsmiths’ Company and the London Assay Office, a magnificent venue that has been on the site since 1337.

Six members of staff from East Riding of Yorkshire Trading Standards attended the training event on 22 November 2023. All were treated to a fantastic day of learning about hallmarking and Goldsmiths’ Hall history, led by Adam Phillips, the Customer Service Manager of the Goldsmiths’ Company. It was also fantastic that Department for Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP could attend the ceremony and add his congratulations to the East Riding of Yorkshire team.

The day included a detailed and instructive look at the hallmarking operation, from use of metal punches to the latest technology using XRF testing and laser hallmarking. There was also a tour of the Goldsmiths’ Hall building, a presentation on hallmarking and current and historical issues, and a fabulous lunch courtesy of the Goldsmiths’ Company. Overall it was a fantastic prize and a memorable day for everyone involved.

The award presentation at Goldsmiths’ Hall

BHC Chairman Noel Hunter OBE attended on the day to present the Touchstone Award and individual prizes to the team from East Riding. He commented: “The UK Hallmarking Act (1973) was put in place to protect consumers and honest retailers alike from sellers of non-compliant articles as well as counterfeits, and this day is a fantastic culmination of efforts throughout the year.

“The British Hallmarking Council relies on local authority-based Trading Standards teams across the UK to exercise their duties under the Hallmarking Act to protect consumers and businesses, and I am delighted to be able to congratulate East Riding of Yorkshire on the Council’s behalf.

2023 Commendation: Antiques Roadshow
This year the BHC was delighted to receive fantastic support from the BBC through the Antiques Roadshow, which is the most popular show of its kind in the UK, informing and entertaining prime-time viewers across the country.
In conjunction with Joanna Hardy, one of the show’s presenters and a BHC member, the BHC took the opportunity to highlight the hallmarking requirements for precious metal jewellery and collectables during a programme that aired on 7 November.

This piece of work was unprecedented and was a significant boost to hallmarking knowledge and education. Not being a local authority, the BBC did not qualify as a Touchstone Award entrant, but the Council thought it was appropriate to issue a Certificate of Commendation, and the show’s producer, Rae Gilder Cooke, was able to attend the day at Goldsmiths’ Hall to receive the award.

Touchstone Award 2024
The British Hallmarking Council is calling for applications for the Touchstone Award 2024.

The award is presented annually to the Trading Standards Department, or individual(s) within the Trading Standards Service, for the most effective activity undertaken in relation to hallmarking. It can relate to:

  • Enforcement activity
  • Information activity
  • Educational activity
  • A published article

The award will consist of:

  • Touchstone Award
  • Individual winner award
  • Full day hallmarking training session for up to 10 people at a UK Assay Office
  • A prestigious Award Winners Luncheon at an Assay Office

The Touchstone Award will be presented at the CTSI Conference on 19 June 2024.

The application form for the award can be obtained from Sue Green at: britishhallmarkingcouncilsec@gmail.com

Closing date for applications: 26 April 2024.

 

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